Richard Wiley (Korea 1967–69) has a new collection of stories from and about his hometown, Tacoma, Washington.
My first job was as a bicycle repairman when I was fourteen years old. I was fired pretty quickly for not being able to repair bicycles. I was a bartender at the Old St. Louis Tavern when I was twenty. After that, I worked at Pat’s Tavern, site of the first of my Tacoma Stories, from which all of the following stories stream. In the first story, Becky Welles, daughter of the famous thespian, Orson, says the following: “Do you think a town can act as a hedge against the unabated loneliness of the human heart…?
The entire idea for this collection came out of one night’s drinking at Pat’s Tavern back in 1968 (it was really 1967, but I changed the date). Originally, I peopled this story with folks I had actually known back then, not even bothering to change their names. But then I invented new names and backgrounds for them. I thought it would be interesting to imagine their lives going backward and forward from that night.
I have had so very many literary influences over the years–Joyce, Hemingway, Basho, Tanizaki, Robertson Davies, Alice Munro–that it seems now that none have influenced me nearly as strongly as the impulse that all writers probably come to: that of finding one’s own voice.
As I get older, and especially with Tacoma Stories, I lean more toward brevity and compression, am in search of how to say more with less. Also, after living abroad for many of the adult years of my life, I have grown more interested in the idea of “home,” of “place.
Richard Wiley (Korea 1967-69) is the author of eight novels including Bob Stevenson; Soldiers in Hiding, winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction and the Washington State Book Book Award; and Ahmed’s Revenge, winner of the Maria Thomas Fiction Award. Professor emeritus at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, he divides his time between Los Angeles, California, and Tacoma, Washington.
For more information, visit RichardWileyAuthor.com